HOTELS ENGAGE IN COMMUNITY PROJECTS
Easter, like Christmas, is for many hotel groups in Kenya a suitable occasion to talk about the community projects they are engaged in across the year, and at times even splash out some hospitality for the beneficiaries, a date with the photographer included of course. Do good and talk about it is, and should be, a topic of conversation in the PR columns, as after all the public ought to know what their favourite hotel or resort is doing for the country, beyond paying taxes and employing hundreds of staff.
Yet, not all seem to share this view of telling what good they do, as only Sarova and Serena responded within the time frame I had set, leaving the entire space here to showcase what they do, yet not what others too could have told and talked about, with hotel companies invited from right across Eastern Africa.
Read all about the various projects and programmes these two leading Kenyan hospitality giants have underway and how they describe what they do, so that when you stay at any of their properties you can ask to see some of these projects, contribute to it or simply be proud that your shillings are put to good use as far as these two companies are concerned.
SERENA HOTELS: CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL CREDENTIALS
|Serena Hotels Corporate Environmental Mission Statement
We are committed to developing projects which pay the highest regard to environmental concerns in design, planning, construction and operation.
We will practice a responsible attitude towards energy conservation; reducing and recycling waste; control of sewage disposal, air – emissions and pollutants; reduce use of unfriendly products such as CFC’s, pesticides and other toxic substances; reduce noise and visual pollution.
We will be sensitive to the conservation of environmentally protected or threatened areas, species and scenic aesthetics and to achieving landscape enhancement where possible, with indigenous plant material reinforcement.
We must conserve rather than exploit nature.
Environmental Policy and Action Plan:
Our policy is to ensure that all aspects of the business have the least harmful effect on the environment by implementing an environmental management system to:
ü Conserve and improve the usage of energy and raw materials
ü Reduce wastage to a minimum and to recycle materials to the maximum
ü Recognise that wasting energy causes avoidable pollution
ü Avoid pollution of air, land and water wherever possible
ü Improve the working environment
ü Seek to achieve environmental excellence in all our business operations
ü Discuss environmental issues regularly at the highest levels of the company
ü Train and regularly consult employees on good environmental practices
ü Encourage our suppliers and sub-contractors to act in accordance with our environmental standards
ü Be fully aware of any environmental legislation and ensure that regulatory requirements are met and, where feasible, improved upon.
Current Environmental projects:
I. Energy and Water Conservation: Each lodge is fitted with water meters and the amount of water being drawn from local water sources is measured daily to ensure that our water saving initiative is making a difference. The lodges, being in remote places are not connected to the national electricity grid and therefore have to generate their own electricity, which is mainly done by diesel powered generators. Inverter systems have therefore been installed and this has led to reduced fuel usage and a reduction of noise and air pollution.
II. Waste Management: Serena is committed to finding sustainable solutions for waste management despite operating in countries where recycling and other waste facilities are limited. Garbage is sorted at all lodges and, in the case of Kenya, sent back to Nairobi for handling by professional garbage disposal companies. Glass and plastic are recycled while non-recyclable matter is disposed in the most environmentally friendly manner. Wet waste is retained at the lodges and composted into holes systematically dug into vegetable gardens and tightly covered by steel covers to keep animals and birds away. The resultant manure is used in the vegetable and flower gardens.
III. Environmental Training: Serena recognizes that to obtain the desired impact from its work in the environmental arena, both staff and the communities in which it operates need to understand the importance of environmental responsibility. All lodges have an onsite naturalist and environmental committee that provide training to all staff members on environmental policies/practices (eg. How to save water).
IV. Biodiversity: (Through our Turtle and Butterfly Conservation): Serena Beach Hotel and Spa has been engaging in butterfly and turtle conservation projects since 1993. The overall objective of the programme is turtle conservation by providing a safe haven to eggs laid in doomed nests, facilitating transfer of eggs to safe havens and providing incentives to local fishermen to protect turtles and turtle eggs. A turtle adoption scheme has enabled guests to adopt turtles and cash donations are used for paying local fishermen who report and protect the turtles and their nests.
V. Reduction of Carbon Footprints/ emissions: Carbon offsetting has roots in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that calls on polluting nations to reduce their greenhouse gases (GHG) emission levels and sets out fines for developed countries that exceed emission targets. By ratifying the agreement, the developing countries like Kenya having no GHG emission reduction obligations can participate in GHG reduction through clean development mechanism (CDM) projects. AKDN uttermost aim is to plant enough trees (including those planted in Serena Hotel Lodges in East Africa) and claim for Carbon Credit, later. The over 2 million trees Serena has planted at its Lodges, schools and government forests have been enumerated in the UNEP’s ‘The Billion Tree Campaign’. In the world today however, sustainable tourism entails striving to be carbon neutral. This means balancing carbon dioxide (Co2) emissions that are produced from tourism-related activities like air travel, auto travel, heating, electricity, etc with equivalent carbon reduction activities elsewhere (offsets). Serena guests and property locals take up the responsibility of offsetting their carbon footprints every time they visit the facilities by planting at least five trees. Currently, this practice is at all Serena Lodges in Kenya. Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge, being the pioneer in tree planting project from 1991, has a total of about one million trees that have taken root.
VI. Architectural design: The architecture of all Serena lodges and hotels pays tribute to the local environment and culture. Buildings are designed to blend with natural settings and are constructed with local materials and labor. Traditional local crafts and motifs are reflected in the internal and external design. We also use local textiles specially designed for each individual property in the furnishings. The decor and ornamental items within each hotel are locally sourced and the landscaping and layout of the properties are drawn from local designs and cultural traditions. Some groups which are supported include: Kakuzi Limited, Banana Box and Designer’s Youth Project.
VII. Serena Tree Planting: All lodges work with thousands of guests, school children and visiting dignitaries to ‘plant a tree for Africa’. They also engage guest participation in other corporate social responsibility activities that take place around the properties.
Current Social Projects:
ü All lodges provide community health care with a focus on free medical consultations and subsidized medication through its on-site medical clinics on a continuous basis. They also provide antenatal care and immunization, family planning, Voluntary Counseling and Testing as well as provision of mosquito nets which they receive from the Ministry of Health.
ü At each property there is a team of Wellness Peer Educators who spread educate the local communities on healthy living and where need be, help address their health needs.
ü At all the lodges, local performers are hired to entertain guests for a fee on a daily basis.
ü Fresh produce for the kitchen is procured form local farmers whenever possible.
ü Local communities are given training opportunities at the hotels and lodges on a continuous basis; if they are interested in taking up a career in the hospitality industry, they are employed to work at the properties.
ü All properties offer practical attachments for students to gain necessary work experience. They also enroll management trainees who are later absorbed in to different units after six months training and rotation around other units.
ü The local communities are given access to the staff canteen for basic commodities at subsidized staff rates.
Serena Green Initiative:
(a) Solar energy
ü Fully installed and operational in Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp, Kigali Serena Hotel, Lake Kivu Serena Hotel, Kampala Serena Hotel and Serena Beach Hotel & Spa.
ü Sweetwaters Tented Camp is work in progress. Phase 1 is complete, and Phase 2 almost ready.
ü There are plans to eventually have these in all Serena properties.
ü Our generators are usually switched off every day for 6-8 hours and we use invertors during that time.
ü These have been fitted in each lodge in Kenya and Tanzania (except for Sweetwaters Tented Camp and Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp) where power supply is by KPLC.
ü The benefits of this includes:
· Saving on cost (diesel)
· Saves the environment (air and noise pollution)
· Reduction of fossil fuel usage
· Does not inconvenience clients
· Prolongs the engine lives of the generators (reduces frequency of service- usually every 250hours)
· Cost of servicing generators is also reduced (oil, filters, waste oil) e.t.c.
ü We have been planting trees for the last 10years in our lodges, forests, schools and communities.
ü So far we have planted over 3Million trees.
ü Working on mapping of the trees in the areas, after which we will apply for carbon credit.
At Sarova Hotels, Resort and Game Lodges, we have integrated social and environmental concerns in our business operations. This is reflected in our mission"To work with the communities in locations where we operate in improving their lives through leadership driven corporate social responsibility charter."
Our corporate conscience is hinged on three key pillars; education, health and environment. We have continued to strengthen our relationship with key stakeholders in destinations where we operate.
Below are highlights of some of the projects we have carried out:
· Education –
o Since 1997, Sarova Mara Game Camp has been supporting Sekenani Primary School. Some of the projects undertaken at the school include building a dormitory area for students facing difficult situations, establishing a botanical garden with over 500 indigenous trees of different species in the school compound as an environmental conservation initiative. Over the years, Sarova Mara has supported the school by providing mattresses, blankets and by building an administration block. Sarova Hotels partnered with Virgin Atlantic as well as Water for All and ten frequent flyer volunteers from Virgin Atlantic in constructing boarding facilities, solar powered water pumps and a new kitchen and play area.
o In partnership with Well-Aware, Sarova has supported drilling of well and building of classes at Daaba Primary School, Shaba region
o Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa is supporting local schools through a mentorship program that sees student participate in day today resort activities thus harnessing their skills and preparing them for future careers in hospitality.
· Tree planting conservation exercise at Lake Nakuru National Park, Taita Wildlife Conservancy, Ndakaini Dam & Nairobi National Park.
· Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa staff have taken on an initiative dubbed “the beach cleanup” (one of the hotels in the area taking an initiative of this kind)aimed at preserving the beach and its environment where clean up takes place every 2nd Saturday with an average of 20 staff taking part per session.
· Health –
o Refurbished the Sandy Vohra wing with state-of the-art medical equipment at Spinal Injury Hospital Unit in Nairobi
o Annual Medical Camps – Sarova has partnered with medical organizations to host medical camps in Taita and Maasai Mara regions.
o Support to Diabetes Kenya through Sarova Panafric.
· Sarova Mara Game Camp keeps alive the tradition of the Maasai people in the Isokon Maasai Cultural Village. The village is a true showcase of Maasai Culture. This unique display and interactive presentation allows you to immerse yourself in one of earth’s oldest cultures.